Deadly Riots in China’s Troubled Xinjiang Region

Posted February 28th, 2012 at 11:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Chinese state media say at least 12 people died Tuesday during violent disturbances in the remote northwestern region of Xinjiang.

The official Xinhua news agency says rioters killed 10 people and injured several others in Yecheng County near Kashgar, while two rioters were fatally shot by police. An overseas group representing the region's mainly Muslim Uighur population told news agencies the deaths occurred during a clash between Uighurs and security forces.

Xinhua said a manhunt has been launched to capture others involved in the violence.

The Xinjiang region has been plagued in recent years by fighting between the indigenous Uighurs and Han Chinese. The worst of the clashes occurred in 2009, when Uighurs launched attacks against Han Chinese in the regional capital of Urumqui, leaving at least 197 people dead.

Eight people were killed in a shoot-out with police in December, during what Beijing described as the rescue of two herdsmen who had been kidnapped by “terrorists.”

The Chinese government has blamed the violence in the resource-rich region on Islamist extremists. But exile groups say the Turkic-speaking Uighurs are rioting over longstanding grievances. Uighurs say they are economically and culturally disadvantaged compared to the growing numbers of Han Chinese in the region.